Head-On Car Crash Legal Claim Facts and FAQs

Main Points:

  • Head-on collisions are not as common as other collisions but they are more dangerous in terms of severity of injuries
  • Head-on collisions happen for many of the same reasons as other collisions therefore, are preventable
  • The physical forces involved in these collisions, often lead to extensive damage and higher settlements
  • Proving fault in a head-on crash can be difficult because they often happen on rural roads where witnesses may not be available
  • On narrow rural highways with little space available to avoid an existing accident scene, the possibility of the involvement of multiple vehicles increases

Are Head-on Crashes the Most Dangerous Accidents?

Head-on collisions are among the most catastrophic and deadly accidents that happen on our roads.

They occur when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide, often resulting in severe injuries, extensive property damage, and, tragically, loss of life. Fortunately, they happen less often than other types of crashes.

What Typically Causes a Head On Collision?

Head-on collisions can happen due to any number of other factors as well. Some examples are:

Driver error: Behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or simply failing to pay attention to the road are often the cause of head-on collisions.

Rural Roads: In Georgia, the prevalence of two-lane highways increases the likelihood of head-on collisions occurring. These types of roads present a higher risk for head-on collisions because roads and their lanes are narrower, there are fewer dividers or barriers separating oncoming traffic, and higher speed limits.

Drowsy driving: Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel  or simply become drowsy and lose focus can easily veer onto adjacent lanes of oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision.

Improper passing: Carelessly attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane road can lead to head-on collisions. This happens if the driver misjudges the distance of oncoming traffic or if other vehicles are not visible due to road conditions or weather.

Weather or road conditions: Inclement weather can lead to slippery roads, poor visibility, and other hazardous conditions, which increase the risk of losing control and crashing into an oncoming vehicle with devastating consequences.

Vehicle malfunctions: In some cases, a mechanical failure or malfunction such as tire blow-outs or brake failure can cause the driver to lose control. This can cause the vehicle to lurch into oncoming traffic ending in a collision.

Improper road design or signage: Sometimes inadequate signage, or confusing road design can contribute to head-on collisions by not providing drivers with necessary information or adequate time to navigate safely.

Do Head On Collisions Come With the Worst Injuries?

Head-on collisions are known to cause the most severe and life-altering injuries. The tremendous physical forces involved when two vehicles collide are responsible for more serious injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): The impact of a head-on collision can cause a driver or passenger’s head to bang into hard surfaces inside the vehicle. Commonly, hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield, can result in traumatic brain injuries. These brain injuries are caused when the brain gets banged violently against the bones inside the skull. These injuries can range from mild concussions to permanent brain damage.

Spinal cord injuries: The same physical forces can easily cause damage to the spinal cord. This cord, which runs from the brain down the length of the spine can be bruised, torn, or severed causing  partial or complete paralysis, and other neurological issues.

Fractures and broken bones: The forces of high-impact associated with head-on collisions can also result in broken bones and fractures. Commonly, this happens in the bones of the arms and legs that can brace for impact, and be shattered by the physical forces. Fractures and breaks can also happen to other bones including the ribs, and pelvis.

Internal injuries: The force of the impact can cause victims to be thrown violently around the inside of the cab or even ejected outright from the vehicle. This can lead to internal injuries, such as organ damage, internal bleeding, or injury to the lungs and heart. If seat-belts and/or airbags are not in use, these injuries can be more severe.

Neck and chest injuries: Injuries to the neck and chest including whiplash, cervical fractures, and other neck injuries are common in head-on collisions. Rapid deceleration and sudden, violent stops can also lead to injuries like broken ribs, a collapsed lung, or spinal damage.

Lacerations and bruising: At the moment of impact, victim’s bodies are thrown against sharp objects within the vehicle or flying debris dislodged by the force of the collision. These factors can cause cuts, bruises, and other soft tissue injuries.

The severity of these injuries will be different from accident to accident and be dependent upon factors such as the speed of the vehicles, whether or not seatbelts and child restraints were in use and whether airbags were deployed. Also of importance is the age and physical condition of the occupants.

It is extremely important to seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible following a head-on collision even if you don’t think you’re badly injured. Some injuries are not immediately obvious but will develop later. If such injuries go untreated, they can still have serious or even deadly long-term consequences.

Are Head On Collisions the Most Expensive Accidents Because of the severity of the injuries?

Yes, head-on collisions are often the most expensive type of car accident because of the life-threatening nature of the injuries that frequently result. Here is a list of some factors that contribute to the high costs associated with head-on collisions/

Medical expenses: The sometimes acute injuries that often occur in head-on collisions can lead to extensive and costly medical treatments. This can include surgeries, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and lengthy rehab care. In some cases, victims may require lifelong medical assistance, which can add up to significant expenses over time.

Property damage: Head-on collisions tend to cause more substantial damage to the vehicles involved, resulting in higher repair or replacement costs.

Lost wages: Due to the severe nature of the injuries, victims may be unable to work for extended periods of time, leading to lost jobs, lower or lost income and potential long-term impacts  upon their financial stability.

Pain and suffering: Head-on collisions can bring about significant emotional distress, chronic pain, and significant  reduction in quality of life. These non-monetary consequences may result in higher compensation awards.

Wrongful death claims: Tragically, head-on collisions often result in fatalities. Deaths as a result of vehicular accidents can lead to funeral expenses followed by long as costly wrongful death legal claims for the families of the victims.

What evidence can be used to prove liability in a head-on collision?

Proving liability in a head-on collision requires the gathering  of evidence to demonstrate that one or more parties were at fault for causing the accident. Some types of evidence that can help establish liability include:

Accident scene evidence: Photos of the accident scene, showing skid marks, debris, and vehicle damage can provide valuable clues about the cause of the crash and who may be liable.

Eyewitness statements: Statements from people who actually saw the accident occur can help to establish how the crash happened and who was at fault.

Police reports: Official accident reports from first responders including law enforcement officers, paramedics and firefighters  may include their observations, witness statements, and any citations or charges issued, all of which can help establish liability.

Vehicle data recorders: Many newer vehicles are equipped with event data recorders (EDRs,) similar to the “black boxes” found in aircraft, which can provide information about the vehicle’s speed, braking, and other factors leading up to the collision.

Traffic camera footage: If the accident occurred in an area with traffic cameras, or near businesses that maintain security cameras,  the footage could provide valuable evidence of the crash and who was at fault

Damaged in heavy car accident vehicles
Damaged in heavy car accident vehicles after collision on city street crash site at night. Road safety and insurance concept.

Can the Accident Scene itself Prove Who Was At-Fault for a Head on Collision?

Yes, the accident scene can provide valuable evidence to help determine who was at fault in a head-on collision. Here are a few of the key pieces of evidence that are often found at the accident scene:

Skid marks: The length and direction of skid marks on the road can give us important information including the speed at which the vehicles were traveling and what the immediate reactions of the drivers were in terms of braking, or attempts to avoid the collision.

Vehicle debris: The location and scatter pattern of the debris at the accident scene can help to establish the point of impact and the severity of the impact.

Road conditions: The condition of the road, such as the presence of potholes, uneven pavement, guardrails, or obstacles that might have impaired visibility, can contribute to the cause of a head-on collision.

Traffic control devices: Discovering whether or not there were traffic signs, signals, or markings at the scene can provide insight into whether a driver disobeyed traffic laws or ignored right-of-way requirements.

Witness statements: Eyewitness accounts of the accident are sources of valuable information about the moments immediately before the collision and can help to establish fault.

Can a Person Go to Jail for Causing a Head On Collision?

Perhaps. Whether or not you go to jail for causing a head-on collision depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the severity of the outcome and whether or not crimes were committed leading to the accident.

In general, a driver might face criminal charges if his or her  actions involved reckless behavior, gross negligence, or intentional disregard for the safety of others.. Some situations that could lead to jail time include:

Driving under the influence: If the driver is found to be driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, causing a head-on collision, that driver could face DUI or DWI charges, which can result in jail time, fines, and the suspension of driving privileges.

Reckless driving or gross negligence: In cases where your conduct is deemed to be grossly negligent or reckless, you would likely face criminal charges. In some cases, you could be charged with reckless driving, while more severe incidents could lead to allegations of vehicular manslaughter. Such circumstances might also bring about the addition of punitive damages to your other charges.

Leaving the scene of an accident: Fleeing or leaving the scene of an accident is  hit-and-run, and is a criminal offense in Georgia. To do so can result in jail time.

Intentional Acts: If it can be determined that you deliberately instigated a head-on collision, criminal charges and possible incarceration may well be included in your punishment.

What Traffic Laws Are Often Broken that Cause a Head On Collision?

Many accidents are preventable. However, if you break certain common traffic laws it increases your risk of causing a head-on collision.

Crossing over the centerline: Drivers who fail to maintain their lane and cross over the centerline or median can easily cause a head-on collision with oncoming traffic.

Improper passing: Passing another vehicle in a no-passing zone, on a hill or blind curve, or in other conditions where clear vision is limited,  can result in a head-on collision with oncoming traffic.

Ignoring traffic signs and signals: Failing to obey stop signs, traffic lights, or other traffic control devices can easily lead to collisions with oncoming vehicles.

Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds can reduce a driver’s ability to react to hazards and maintain control of his vehicle, significantly increasing  the severity of a head-on collision if one occurs.

Distracted driving: While driving, using a cell phone, eating, turning to attend to children in the back seat, applying makeup, or engaging in any other activity that takes his attention away from the road ahead can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and veer into oncoming traffic leading to a head-on collision.

Is it Possible for Two Drivers to be At Fault for a Head on Collision?

Yes. In Georgia, it is possible for two drivers to share fault for a head-on collision. Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that each driver’s degree of fault will be taken into account in determining liability and damages.

This can happen when both drivers are distracted or inattentive, or if both drivers violate traffic laws that contribute to the accident, such as speeding, improper passing, or failing to yield, they may both be at fault. In such cases, as long as a driver is less than 50 percent at fault, he may still recover damages.

The way in which fault is determined and how it affects the allocation of damages will depend on the specific laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

What Challenges do Car Accident Lawyers Experience with Head On Collisions?

Car accident lawyers face numerous challenges when handling cases involving head-on collisions.

Establishing liability: Determining who is at fault for a head-on collision can be complex, especially if there are conflicting accounts of what happened.

Dealing with severe injuries: Head-on collisions often result in severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation over time. This makes it challenging to estimate the full extent of damages and ensure adequate compensation to address both short and long-term needs.

Navigating insurance disputes: Insurance companies will almost always dispute liability or the amount of damages in a head-on collision case. This complicates and intensifies the process of securing compensation for injured parties.

Addressing psychological trauma: The trauma experienced by the victims in  a head-on collision can have long-lasting psychological effects that are difficult to quantify and include in a claim for damages.

Under What Circumstances Can a Head On Collision Result in Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are monetary awards that the court may impose on a defendant to punish them for particularly bad behavior. The point of punitive damages is primarily to deter similar conduct in the future. In the context of a head-on collision, punitive damages may be available under certain circumstances, such as:

Intentional or reckless behavior: If a driver intentionally causes a head-on collision, such as by intentionally crossing the centerline to harm another person, punitive damages may be appropriate. Similarly, if a driver’s behavior is found to be grossly reckless, such as driving at an extremely high rate of speed or engaging in a high-speed chase, punitive damages may be awarded.

Drunk driving: In many states, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious offense that warrants punitive damages if it causes a head-on collision.

Corporate misconduct: If a company’s policies or practices contributed to the head-on collision, such as by encouraging drivers to speed or work long hours without adequate rest, punitive damages may be awarded against the company.

The availability and amount of punitive damages will depend on the specific facts of the case and the applicable state laws. In Georgia, punitive damages are capped at $250,000 and may not exceed that amount.

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